The impact of longitudinal integrated clerkships on health care: the patient perspective
Background: Students completing their medical degree at the University of Wollongong experience continuity of care and clinical supervision during an innovative year-long integrated (community and hospital) clinical placement. This study evaluates the impact of the initiative on patients, who can offer unique perspectives on new approaches to training ‘muchneeded’ doctors in their community. Summary of work: Collective case study methodology was used. Semi-structured, face-to-face, interviews with patients provided cases from a number of regional and rural locations. Case data were analysed thematically within each case, and a cross case analysis performed. Summary of results: Initial analysis revealed that patients are willing partners in the development of medical student confidence and competence. Patients perceive that both they and students benefit from continuity of care experiences. They report that when a senior student has the chance to become an integral rather than a peripheral member of local health care team(s), the student value-adds and improves access to patient care. Conclusions: Patients perceive that they have an important contribution to make to medical education and new strategies to address mal-distribution of medical workforce. They value the long-term engagement of senior students in their health care team(s). Take-home messages: The patients’ perspective reveals important insights to enhance and sustain new models of medical education.